Sunday, February 25, 2007


Babel (Alejandro Gonzalez Innaritu, 2006) [4]
With tonight being the Oscars, there's no doubt that this will edge out a win for Best Picture because it has all the facets of Hollywood liberal guilt syndrome that made Crash appealing. That's not to say that this is as bad and manipulative as Crash; Innaritu is a much more talented director than Paul Haggis and his virtuosity cover up some of the more illogical elements of this film. Even though, it doesn't have as many differences as similarities: the film especially towards the end becomes more and more emotionally manipulative (the nanny's ordeal with customs, Brad Pitt playing the Ugly American) and its cut and paste way of tying the disparate story lines together, which is highly irrational. Innaritu and writer Guillermo Arriaga also have big ideas to throw around (global interconnectivity, the futility of language, the persistence of human agony, and so on) but never really form them into any coherent statement. The only part of the film that gets above is the Japanese storyline mostly because the Richo Kikuchi character, as a deaf mute, exists outside all of Innaritu's big idea garbage, and for that time, we get scenes with real character motivation and development that show the promise that Babel and Innaritu have. Too bad he lets the rest of the film mess that up.

The truth is I liked Innaritu's previous films, especially 21 Grams and I do think that he has true talent as a filmmaker. The biggest problem with Babel is that he gets himself bogged down into thinking he's conveying great truths about a global culture that is more interconnected than the average person would happen to believe. What comes out is a muddled film that has some really good moments but never gets itself above its illogical connections and liberal guilt-tripping. Which means, sadly, it will probably win Best Picture.

By the way, if anyone has read my posts from last year, I said if Crash won Best Picture, I would boycott watching the Oscars for eternity. I'm going to keep my word; I don't care anymore. My only hope is that Martin Scorsese, after he wins for best director, realizes that Oscars don't validate his career. Hell, the man lost to Kevin Costner and John Avildsen in the past. That tells you all you need to know.

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